Dog owners fear for the future of Meola Park

Sean Stapleton     25/05/2017     Meola Dog Park

By Sean Stapleton

Meloa Dog Park users are worried over the impact of Auckland Council planning developments on the park’s off leash status.

Dog owner and Westemere resident Leela Anderson expressed her fears for the park, saying that she thought the park could face re-purposing under council planning initiatives.

“It’ll either be taken away from us, or made into a ritzy playground, and as soon as you have playgrounds you can’t have dogs, because of children.”

Meola Dog Park was named by Stuff as Auckland’s best off leash dog park in 2016, and attracts dog walkers from all across the city.

Mt Roskill resident and dog owner Justine Brown said, “ I wouldn’t be coming here unless I had a dog, it wouldn’t make sense.” She was firm in saying that the park had no need for change.

Auckland Council designated the completion of development plans for Meola park as a prority in their 2017/2018 budget. The Waitematā Local Board has held several public consultation sessions on the matter since March.

Chair of the Waitematā Local Board, Pippa Coom was approached for comment on the issue, but failed to respond.

“You have to be really careful and know your dog laws going anywhere,” said Pt Chevalier resident and dog owner Nicole Russell. “Dogs need that off leash experience,” she said, in response to questions about park developments.

In 2015 there was a widescale review of dog rules by the Local Board, that resulted in the prohibition of dogs from certain local areas and restrictions on leash rules in the interests of conservation of local wild life. Meola Park was subject to a number of these changes which now restrict access for dogs outside of the off leash zone.

Anderson said that after Forest and Bird’s involvement in the application of restrictions, she fears that open submisssions may result in “over-conservative measures being applied”.

The March of the Hopeful

Sean Stapleton     04/05/2017     Hope Walk

 

By Sean Stapleton

Hope is afoot as New Zealanders are marching across the country in a movement to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

The charity, HopeWalk, just held a march in association with Voices of Hope in the Auckland Domain on the 29th of April, with over 600 attendees turning out to walk.

The march covered five kilometers and 79 meters as they looped through the domain, as a symbol of the 579 lives lost to suicide in the last coroner’s report.

HopeWalk is a charitable trust, dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention events. They held their first event in February of 2016, in the form of a march from Manakau to Papakura.

Prior to starting the march, organiser Joseph Fa’afiu, addressed the crowd.

“How many of us here today have lost a someone in our lives to suicide?”

In a silent display, hundreds lifted their hands to indicate they had lost loved ones.

Following the march, founders of Voices of Hope, Jazz Thornton and Genevieve More, spoke reinforcing the message of the event. The pair went on to share with the crowd details from their own journey with mental health.

“Without sharing, change can’t be made,” said More. Pressing that to fight the stigma of depression, New Zealanders need be more open about their mental health.

HopeWalk was established by Fa’afiu, after he lost a close friend to suicide in 2010. The organisation runs marches all across New Zealand from Invercargill to Auckland.

 

If this article brought up any issues for you call

Life line 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757

 

HopeWalk can be found at http://www.hopewalk.nz 

Voices of hope can be found at http://www.thevoicesofhope.org

Hayley Holt calls for drug law reforms

Sean Stapleton     06/04/2017     Cannabis Reform

By Sean Stapleton

Green party candidate Hayley Holt says she expects cannabis to be the equivalent of a glass of wine soon.

In a recent press conference Holt voiced her support for the decriminalisation of all drugs and legalisation of marijuana.

She stated that she believed the risks asscociated with the drug were much lower than alcohol and that it could be consumed responsibly.

“It’s a health issue”, Holt claimed. “Portugal decriminalised all drugs and it reduced their drug usage. It’s the way forward.”

Holt believes smoking a joint will become just the same as an evening glass of wine in 10 years.

While Holt is advocating for the decriminalisation of all illegal drugs, the Green Party is more conservative in its drug policies, focusing soley on cannabis use.

The party states in its Drug Law Reform policy that it would make provisions for doctors to be able to prescribe cannabis to patients and that they aiming to “introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use”.

While not said outright, party policy suggests they support the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

The National Party was approached for comment on the possibility of cannabis law reform but failed to respond.

Auckland voters have had a mixed response to Holt’s views on drug reform and expressed concern for the legalisation of cannabis beyond medicinal use.

Helen Bergin, 69, was critical of cannabis as a medicine and said she questioned whether smoking it would “override the health benefits of [cannabis] as a medicine”.

Bergin stated that she was “absolutely against” recreational use.

Student Neil Napila, 18, was more worried about how recreational use might impair drivers.

“It gets you high, and [they] drive sometimes. It might cause some accidents.”

Under New Zealand law it is currently illegal to drive while impaired by a controlled drug or prescription medicine.

Dumpster Dinners

Sean Stapleton       15/03/2017       Dumpster Divers

By Sean Stapleton

Two Auckland dumpster divers are on a mission to save edible food from landfills as they redistribute to the needy.

Every week, the two women who wish to remain unnamed, head out in the early hours of the morning to supermarkets across central Auckland. They unashamedly dive deep into the outdoor skips as they search for fresh and edible food.

The pair are both professional academics at Auckland University and have years of experience with dumpster diving. Although they are advocates and want to spread awareness of the activity, they fear repercussions from their jobs if they went public.

This is a new operation as they have only been diving in Auckland for a month now.

Despite this, they already face an issue of surplus in what they recover and are currently in the process of expanding their distribution network.

“We get really frustrated,” the pair said. “We know people need this food but we don’t know how to get it to them.”

In the last week, they connected with Rescare Homes Trust, a lifestyle community for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Aatir Zadi, a supervisor at the Manukau Community was thankful for their support.

“The quality of food was amazing and we would love to request some more in future.

We loved the selection of breads and veggies.”

Hygiene may seem like danger when recovering food from dumpsters, but these women have a series of systems and checks to ensure the food is edible.

Discretion is key during the recovery process, and a second check of all food is performed once they return home to their flat. Vacuum packed products are submerged in water to check for leaks in packaging, while fruit and vegetables get soaked and cleaned.

The food they retrieve is stored at their flat in two fridge and freezer unit as well as a 250-liter chest freezer. Most is cooked, canned or preserved before storage as soon as possible to prevent the food from becoming inedible.

Though these women operate in an unofficial capacity, there are official charities that work with supermarkets to save wasted food. Fair Food is one such group, which works with chain stores such as Countdown and Farro Fresh.

Countdown and Farro Fresh are however, stores that these women frequently dive at. Which suggests even with official redistribution, there is still more than necessary going to waste.

Doughnuts: Next on the Swarbrick agenda

Friday Oct 21, 2016

Ex-mayoral candidate and self made entrepreneur Chlöe Swarbrick is opening a doughnut cafe and art gallery.

Swarbrick and partner Alex Bartley Catt have been working with associate  Bryan Anderson on the renovation and development  of the space they have coined Olly. The cafe is due to open in about a month, and will be located inside suburban cinema The Crystal Palace.

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Outside Olly – Photo/Sean Stapleton

The idea for a doughnut cafe was concieved out of Swarbrick and Catt’s passion for the pastries, and disappointment in the lack of a doughnut scene in Auckland. “No one really does the sort of doughnuts that people want here,” claims Swarbrick.

Olly will have a range of doughnuts that will include both yeast and cake based recipes with a focus on the traditional circular shape. The aim is to create a brand that draws on both the American ideals and Melbourne doughnut trends.

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The Crystal Palace – Photo/Sean Stapleton

Though Swarbrick concedes that “doughnuts aren’t extremely healthy”,  they will be using high quality and natural ingredients.

The trio acquired the space following a change in management of the suburban cinema.

Swarbrick would walk past the empty store front daily and had designs on it for a while, as she has a infatuation with project spaces. Her initial plans for the space were solely for an art gallery.

Art has always been a great love of Swarbrick’s and she has been involved in a number of artistic projects over the last three years. She even founded The Goods last year, a “united front for local artists, photographers, and rag traders”.

Through that front Swarbrick set up a space similar to her current project, in St Kevin’s arcade last December. There they hosted a week long retail space with a revolving gallery.

“I love talented artists. It kind of hurts me when I see people not feeling confident in their passions”

Swarbrick aims to give artists a leg up to share their talent with a broader audience, potentially sell their works and gain more faith in their talent.

With this mentality towards the arts, the trio behind Olly have brought in artists from their networks to contribute to a mural covering the back wall of their cafe. Bryson Naik, Toni Gill and Jed Richardson are the collaborators on the art piece (pictured below).

Back at it

A post shared by Chlöe Swarbrick (@chloe.swarbrick) on

The art displayed in the gallery will be on a monthly rotation with gallery openings to accompany the arrival of the new exhibitions.

The space is intended to be a permanent fixture, so locals can expect a bright future with plenty  of fresh art in the village.

Some may be concerned by how far the space is from the centre of Mt Eden Village, however Swarbrick has no qualms. “Passerbys have been showing a lot of interest and we have a wide network,” she claims.

The sentiment is shared by nearby cafes, Oaeill Liang, a local cafe worker says “Some people think that we are very far away from the centre of the village, but a lot of people like that.” He believes that if businesses on the edge of the village work together they can increase their customer traffic.

The trio’s venture is a sign of what becomes of modern tertiary students as they enter the work force. A social media poll conducted shows that it’s a widely held view that after graduation students are likely to end up with diverse careers that stray from their qualification title.

 

Swarbrick is a prime example of this modern trend, as she graduated from Auckland University with a Law degree, and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in philosophy. Qualifications that seem odd considering her work history.

As a young woman involved in multiple projects and working a number of jobs, Chlöe Swarbrick holds a personal philosophy that fuels her drive. “Life is Suffering,” she says, a buddhist moral, and idea that she believes pushes her to make life meaningful.

–  Sean Stapleton

Persistence

It is all well and good to have a fantastic idea for a story, but when the key subject is unreachable, you will be left out in the cold. Despite emailing Chlöe through her official public email last Thursday, I heard nothing till yesterday. During that time I made efforts to establish contact through four different methods.

Using wealth of information available online about Swarbrick from various interviews and profiles surrounding her campaign for mayor of Auckland and a variety of artistic and marketing projects she has developed I can cobble together a fairly comprehensive profile of who she is. There is very little information out there however on her current doughnut project.

Thankfully Swarbrick came back to me yesterday and we arranged to meet at The Crystal Palace today for an interview. So with my background research complete I set about preparing my questions.

 

In accordance with my interview with Swarbrick this morning, I visited a few nearby cafes for their comments on their thoughts on competition opening up nearby and what business was like on the outer edge of the Mount Eden Village.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Unsurprisingly, burglary stories are a dime a dozen, especially amongst the students taking this paper. In a fast paced news cycle where articles are competing for mass appeal, it pays to stand apart from the crowd. With this in mind I hit the streets and scoured social media and local forums for a more original scoop.

As it turns out, I have found my new story in the very first place I looked when I began my hunt. At the top of my road sits the suburban cinema, The Crystal Palace. Once derelict and left empty and unused by its owners, it is now host to a number of concerts since new management took over.

Under this new management, the store space adjacent to the cinema entrance and part of the building is under development by none other than ex-mayoral-candidate Chlöe Swarbrick.

I found this after reading through a recent Reddit AMA Swarbrick took part in following the results of the Auckland City Council election.

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To confirm this information and establish initial contact, I tweeted Swarbrick, as she is known for her social media engagement. I received a reply within the day and have set about to contact her through more formal methods in the hope of securing an interview.